Marketing Unit as a Method of Scouting

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In the last several articles, we have considered seven-touch marketing and social media as methods of marketing your unit and recruiting new scouts. This is leading up to the February Roundtable with Unit Commissioner Andrew Linden discussing social media marketing.

Marketing can be done on paper, on the internet, or in person. Let’s focus on the power of in-person marketing.

The best salesman for scouting to a young boy is his best friend, who is already a scout. Baden Powell set up scouting as an opportunity for boys to naturally gravitate into their preferred social group — a group of 5-7 boys with similar interests. In his book Scoutmastership (1920) he explains that scouting uses this natural tendency to teach character.

As the Boy Scouts of America built its system, it developed a list of methods that scouters are encouraged to use to develop character in boys and girls. One of those methods is “Adult Association,” which is described as “Boys learn from the example set by their adult leaders. An association with adults of high character is encouraged at this stage of a young man’s development.”

Imagine your son has wonderful camping experience and wants to tell everyone about it. You hear him telling his friend within earshot of the friend’s mother. Maybe he is describing rappelling.

Your son says, “So, there I was, standing on the edge of cliff. Then I took a step over the edge. I fell 100 feet! It was so cool!”

The mother interjects, “You did what?!”

At this moment, your son is simultaneously marketing scouting and fulfilling the method of scouting that is “Adult Association.” He is using his experience to tell a story to an adult outside his household. He conveys confidence while the adult often shows admiration for his courage. In that moment, he is building character by building a bond with the adult with an attitude of independence and accomplishment. He is simultaneously spreading the story of scouting in a manner that may scare the mother but also invites her to learn more about what other challenges he has faced and overcome.

The mother may follow up with, “Do you go camping?” or “Where else have you gone?” The more questions she asks, the more your unit is marketing itself to its primary audience.

A successful unit knows that this is how it is most persuasive. Consequently, it will find ways to encourage boys to share their story widely. It may be offering boys a chance in a den meeting or a patrol meeting to tell a story about when they shared information about a scouting activity with someone outside of scouting. Then the den or patrol can choose the best story and share it with pack or troop. A prize for the den or patrol can be offered for the best story. (Reward the den or patrol, if they helped select the story from multiple competitors.) This creates a habit and honor for spreading the scouting story.

When the prospective scout and mother visit your unit, the story will make the final sale much easier.